Saturday, March 19, 2005

Big Bird Up Close

So the other day, I got to go into the facility where the Big Birds are kept. I can't believe I have such an awesome job. Although that day kind of sucked because I am still sick and worked for 17.5 hours. But the next day, I worked from home laying in bed reading. Such is life.

I started worked at 4am. But I was able to nap twice during the day so it wasn't that bad. The first chore of the day was to place a still born calf carcass inside the facility so the birds can eat. The reason we have to go at the dark of dawn is so that the birds won't associate the food with people. We first picked up another calf off a free-flying bird site. And I had to laugh so hard as I watched my vegetarian coworker drag the calf back to the vehicle. Then we removed the old calf from the facility and placed the new one. I was surprised I did not puke, but I survived.

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We then spent the next 14 hours watching the birds eat, preen, fly (inth the mesh), eat, preen, fly (into the mesh), eat...ok, well you got the idea.


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WOW, that's big...

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Hanging out...

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After all that, we cleaned the pools and then had to drop the old carcasses off. I almost puked during this as the smell was so terrible. And then the maggots crawling on the other calfs in the location we dropped them. AH, I felt like I had them crawling all over me. But I survived the night with no bad maggot dreams. (NOTE: Click on the Title to take you to more photos)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Kiss the ANWR and pristine places GOOD-BYE

Back in my college days I wrote a paper against the drilling of the ANWR. That was in 2000-2001. They were fighting to drill it then and looks like the fighting has come to an end. A bitter end at that.

WASHINGTON - By a vote of 51 to 49, the Senate Wednesday defeated a measure that would have banned oil exploration and drilling on the 1.5 million acre coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

It was a victory for Alaska’s two Republican senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, (I am disgusted to see they want it) and for the Bush administration, but as both Stevens and Murkowski acknowledged in a news conference immediately afterward, substantial legislative hurdles remain before drilling could begin. “Some people think we can send the exploration rigs out there tomorrow and that is not the case, we still have quite a ways to go,” Murkowski said.

A tense roll callOn the Senate floor, the final minutes of the roll call were tense, with a few senators waiting until the end to finally cast their vote. One of the last was Sen. Arlen Specter, R- Pa., who voted against the drilling ban. Murkowski gratefully shook his hand after he voted.

“As we move forward and go through additional procedural hurdles, you will see a consistency with the vote,” Murkowski predicted. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to take for granted that everyone who has voted this way today will remain the same. But it is a marker.” She explained that “the biggest hurdle we have is that we don’t (yet) have a budget. This will be a component of that budget, and now all this rides on the success of having a budget.” The climactic vote will not come until late summer when the Senate is likely to vote on what is called the reconciliation act.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that bids for ANWR leases would yield federal proceeds over a 10-year period of $2.6 billion.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s estimate of the economically recoverable resources is about 6 billion barrels at prices at or above $35 per barrel. My question: Is that 6 million a day? And those against the drilling have this to say "The United States Geological Survey estimates that the Refuge has less than a single year's supply of oil that would not reach the market for at least 10 years." The United States imported an average of about 9.7 million barrels of crude oil per day in January. Well if we, and I am one of them, didn't all drive SUVs then we wouldn't need all that damn oil.

Budget measure as vehicleSenate Republicans are using the fiscal year 2006 budget resolution as the vehicle for authorizing oil exploration in ANWR because under Senate rules it requires only 51 votes to pass and is not subject to a filibuster, which can only be overcome with 60 votes.

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget resolution by Friday night.
Speaking a few hours before Wednesday’s vote, Melinda Pierce, a lobbyist on the Arctic issue for the Sierra Club, said there was no assurance that the Republicans could pass the budget resolution due to “a whole host of things” including proposed cuts in Medicaid spending.
ANWR drilling foes may be able to join forces with other opponents of budget cuts to defeat the budget resolution, she suggested. And she added, “definitely litigation is a tool still available to us way down the line” to prevent drilling in ANWR.

In the next two days, Democrats also may try to attach an amendment to the resolution that could derail the budget plan when Senate negotiators meet with their House counterparts next month to devise a compromise blueprint.

Last year, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., was able to attach to the budget resolution a spending limitation amendment which resulted in deadlock with the House; thus the Senate never passed a budget resolution last year. Potential snags This year Feingold has re-introduced his amendment. And the Medicaid amendment also poses a potential problem for proponents of drilling.

Murkowski indicted she’d urge senators to vote against amendments that would jeopardize the budget resolution and thus ANWR drilling. “I’ve got a very vested interest in making sure that we’ve got a successful budget.”

On the vote on a Democratic-sponsored amendment to ban ANWR drilling, seven Republican senators voted with most Democrats for the drilling ban. The Republicans were:
Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island; Norm Coleman of Minnesota; Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine; Mike DeWine of Ohio; John McCain of Arizona (always liked John); and Gordon Smith of Oregon. Three Democrats voted against the drilling ban: Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

In comments after the vote, Energy Committee chairman Sen. Pete Domenici, a strong proponent of ANWR drilling, said the message to the American people was “It’s time to wake up. The United States is in a terrible crisis. I don’t know how we can make the point that we are so vulnerable. … To be almost 70 percent dependent on oil from overseas is a crisis, a crisis waiting to befall America.” (Well hell, it seems like we are in war to get control of how we want things run)

Interior Secretary Gale Norton said allowing drilling in ANWR ought not to be seen as a precedent for allowing drilling elsewhere. (And it kills me to know this)
“ANWR needs to be judged on its own merits,” she said. “There are people who have said, ‘if you go into ANWR, you’re going to be going into all the parts of wilderness areas in this country.’ That is clearly not true. … People have said if you go into ANWR there are going to be drilling rigs right off the beaches of Florida. That is clearly not the case. The president has ordered a moratorium that will protect Florida waters.”

But for newly-elected Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, the concern about Florida's Gulf Coast waters was a factor in his ANWR vote. Martinez said he had persuaded the White House to send a letter saying that the moratorium on oil drilling off Florida's coast would be extended from 2007 to 2012. "I don't know if it was a legitimate concern, but it was an issue being raised by those who wanted me to vote against ANWR," Martinez said. Referring to the moratorium extension, he said, "I worked very hard to make it happen." Martinez said he had not made his final decision on ANWR prior to getting the White House letter on moratorium extension. He will introduce a bill to make the moratorium on Florida Gulf Coast drilling permanent.
Democrats protested both the idea of drilling in ANWR and the budget procedure Republicans used to authorize drilling there.

Threat to other areas?“It is our duty as elected officials to fight to commit the federal government to recognize some of America’s pristine lands as ‘off limits’ to development,” said Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., after the vote. “There are lands in our nation with pristine value we should protect: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of them.” Opening ANWR to drilling would, he said, “set an ominous precedent. Coloradans and Americans alike should know that once this door is unlocked it will be that much easier to unhinge the protections of every refuge from the Alamosa Natural Wildlife Refuge in my home San Luis Valley to the Florida Everglades Wildlife Refuge.” There is a lot of information here that I think is useful. Check out this site for more information against the drilling. There is a template to send your senator an email.

I disagreed back when I wrote the paper and I disagree with it all now. Here is a plain example of why....

For example, there over 400 spills every year of crude oil and other toxic substances at the oil field in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, just 30 miles west of the Arctic Refuge.

Prudhoe Bay has failed for numerous reasons. They said then it would produce what we needed so we didn't have to rely on the others. And if so, then why were we still getting 70% from the others and if it was working then why drill ANWR? Just a thought.

You saw the photos above and the beauty that awaits us in the ANWR. Well that is going to soon be replaced with this image....

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

OP to NW and back

For the past two days, I have been laying (or lying) in bed with some sort of chest/nose sickness. I've kept myself isolated from the rest of the house, but it didn't see to help as someone else has come down with it. I found that what I miss most about BF is his taking care of me when I am sick. Anyway, I vowed that the sickness wasn't going to ruin my entire 4 day weekend and got up this morning with the intention of hiking. I awoke with the first toilet flush of course, checked the weather via the window, and sat at the computer for a while. I figured I would let my lungs and nose adjust to sitting upright for a while before deciding to hike. All went well and by 930 A.M. I was out the door and headed up the O.P. trail for the N.W. trail. I figured since I would have some creek (pronounce that are crick) crossings that I would slap the Tevas (those are sandals) on the tender boot cladded feet for a change. Let me just tell you that the sand here is not my usual sand of Utah, which is warm and soft on the feet. The sand here is more like gravel. By the end of the 10.5 mile hike, my footsies were hurting. I guess I should have eased into the sandal hiking with a shorter hike, but oh well. Live and learn as always.

The hike as I said was 10.5 miles. 7.0 was the N.W. trail and it was rated as strenuous. The O.P. trail is one of two trails in the park that doesn't have a bit of uphill and I love it. I left the house and started walking to the trailhead. The air was crisp and cool. Not the kind of cool that chills the bones, but that soothes the skin and awakens you with each breath that you take. And I knew the sun would soon steal away the chill.

The first view besides the regular beauty was a bald eagle soaring effortlessly down the trail toward the highway. I was in a world of my own when I caught the white head out of the corner of my eye and as it soared in silence above me, it soared loudly through my veins. Ah, to be an eagle.

As I type this, I realize I should start taking photos of certain items that would help the story along. Like I should have taken the photo of the big log that I was cautiously climbing down when I slipped on the moss, landed hard on my ass, and slid off into the water onto my feet. I hit my already damaged shin pretty good and put a nice bruise and small cut on it. I think this is where I also cut open my toe, but wouldn't realize that for another two hours when I looked down and saw the blood trickling from it.

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These are my favorite flowers although I have no idea what they are called. They are so bright and depending on the light and age, they are sometimes yellow and orange or just orange or just yellow. They are quite beauteous. There are a couple of things I don't like about this park--the ever talk about ticks and poison oak. I am so damn nervous of getting one that I am constantly worrying about them. Every time a bush touches me I freak out and I am constantly searching my body for ticks. One again, I didn't find either today. However, if you were hiking with me you would have laughed hard when some sort of lizard ran across my foot and my reaction to its attacking me.

I watched a gopher snake commit suicide by silvering into the rapid of the creek and disappearing. And I watched two red-tail hawk courting each other in the sky. Remember how I said the trail was rated strenuous. Well, up to this point I didn't think it was because it was relatively flat.

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But right after this photo, the uphill started and the strenuous rating kicked in. I saw one other person on the N.W. trail and he was surprised to see me as well. Mostly, I walked in silence with the flowers, lizards, birds, and butterflies.

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I call this photo the Yellow Flower Path. As I believe I have said in the past, the wildflowers are in bloom and I wish I could capture the true colors that surround me while out with the nature Gods. I think it was about here that I realized the toe was trickling blood. Upon reaching the Ranger Station on the West side, I stopped to pet Lucky the chocolate lab and then to the Ranger Station to fix up the toe. The hike back was going to be 3.3 miles if I went through the caves and so that is what I had planned to do. Spelunking it was. Flashlight required or headlamp. I pulled out the flashlight today and went through with no problem. Except I remember the water being a little warmer last time I went through them and the waterfall flowing with much more water. But it was peaceful to be alone in the darkness with the only sound my beating heart and the water falling around me. I left the caves and headed back on the OP trail and started seeing a few more souls. By this time, my feet were screaming STUPID at me and my chest was starting to feel like may be 10.5 miles was a little much after laying in bed sick for two days. As I type this, the coughing isn't subsiding and actually has started getting worse. Thank goodness others have been sick in the house as they have good drugs to hand over to help me. Check out the rest of the photos: Morephotos

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sunday Stroll

I awoke this morning with the first toilet flush. I live in a dorm and any sound brings me out of my sleep and into the world of the next day. The first thing I normally do upon awaking and actually climbing out of bed is open the blinds to see what the day holds for me in terms of weather. The sky was blue and cloudless and it looked like it would be a good one. I could hear the C. Creek flowing across the street and in some sense I could taste the refreshing water in my lungs each time I took a breath. Oh yea, I believe it would be a good day. I am amazed at how green it is here coming from the desert, even though from what I understand the Arizona desert is green as well right now. The flowers are blooming here and the water is running in the creeks. From what I have been told except all that to go away in the next month. So I am trying to get the photos to see now. Photo blog site

Like I said, I awoke this morning and opened the blinds. I sat down at the computer to check email and looked out the window. There were five turkeys gobbling down the road toward The OP Trail I am sure to do some hiking. And then I watched the LE vehicle race down the road with lights flashing. Um, must be something happening in the area. 5 minutes later the rotor blades of a helicopter could be heard. When I went up to the VC to sign some paperwork, an ambulance and fire truck were in our parking lot. Welcome to the first touron of the season for me. This guy was staying in the campground and woke up his friends and said I believe I need some medical attention. They said ok and turned over and went back to sleep. So he drove past the telephone, out of the campground, and into the park where he then collapsed in pain at the front door of the VC. The VC doesn't open until 9am. Oh yea, he was also five feet from another phone. The maintenance staff went and got the person scheduled to work the VC who then called a ranger. And touron was then flown out. Possible appendices. Little to say, I didn't get the paperwork signed.

So later in the day after awaking from my nap, I walked up the BG trail to the VC to sign the paperwork.


The park was very busy today and I am amazed that this is our busy season rather than in the summer. I guess it is too hot for the state's people then, but I think it is because everything is in bloom and the water is flowing. Supposedly when the creek across the street stops flowing on top, you can lay on the ground and hear it flowing underground. I can't wait for that.


Anyway, I saw a ton of people on the trail I walked today and they don't seem to be that friendly of people either. But that's fine with me. I have other things to think about than saying hi to strangers.